Storytelling is the Thread That Links All Fundraising

You may wonder what do grants, bequests, direct mail appeals, monthly donor campaigns, and social media outreach all have in common, and the answer is storytelling.

I was honored to be a part of the team that spoke at the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference in Orlando. You can probably guess that given the DH Leonard Consulting team’s sole focus and love for all thing grants, that I spoke about “Hooking Your Grantmakers with Your Stories.” (Side note: Looking to learn about grants and storytelling and why it is NOT just about where/how you share client success stories? Set up a call – let’s talk.)

But back to the conference…there were speakers and attendees from all aspects of fundraising. The energy was phenomenal, and what I found amazing was how all of the speakers were able to see and share threads between each session to their own. We could all see the connections of the specific way we use storytelling in our own corner of grant writing, bequests, or of direct mail, etc. and share common messages for all to digest and take back to their offices, colleagues and board members.

That being said, there are so many takeaways that my Mission Log was overflowing with notes and ideas, that I decided to boil it down to 5 tips that I think will help you regardless of what fundraising hat you wear, even if your passion is grants, just like me!

My Favorite 5 Tips to Help in ALL Nonprofit Storytelling from #npstory18

  1. Stories have the power to navigate internal silos and conflict. – Peter Drury (@seattledrury)

2. There are six types of bequest stories that work. – Leah Eustace (@LeahEustace)

3. Stories are your operating system, your way of making sense of the world. – Marc Pitman (@marcapitman)

4. It is *okay* to tell the same story in different ways or to circle back and use updates from the original story. – Lori Jacobwith (@LJacobwith)

5. Different groups need to hear different versions of the same story. – Chris Hammond (@cgcgiving)

There were *so* many more nuggets shared during the three days in Orlando. You can go back and follow the hashtag #npstory18 for more resources from this year’s session. And if you’re excited to join in on a conference that is all about storytelling, sign up now for #npstory19 before it sells out (this year’s did!). Hope to see you in San Diego next October!


What do you think is the most universal truth about storytelling in our work as grant professionals or other types of fundraising? I’d love to hear in the comments below or on social media.

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